International standards and trust in digital technologies in the Middle East


The requirements of cyberspace are increasing in the Middle East in light of the increasing importance of digital technology, and the penetration of modern technologies into our daily lives. The website “Cyber ​​Security Projects” expected that losses caused by cybercrime at the global level will increase by 15% annually over the next five years, to reach a cost of 10.5 trillion dollars annually by 2025. As for the Middle East, a report published by RAC indicated Finally, Space Technology indicated that the percentage of institutions that trust their ability to understand the impact of cyber threats on their business does not exceed 48%, while three out of five institutions believe that they are able to face current events. Although the threats are related to the applied technical standards, cybersecurity protocols may unduly interfere with commercial and geopolitical issues, where the unjustified politicization of cybersecurity issues can lead to a decline in trust between countries, and prevent us from a range of advanced technological innovations that advance in our contemporary digital life.

The ongoing technical dispute between the United States and China is only one example of the politicization of technical issues, as the focus on scaling down Chinese technology companies, and the blacklisting of the Chinese giant “Huawei” have harmed fifth-generation investments, and a shortage of electronic chip supplies at the global level. In turn, this led to pressure from some countries, and even competitors to “Huawei” such as “Ericsson”, to repeal the ban imposed on the company.

Experts have said on many occasions that attempts to dominate technology in all areas are irrational. They also emphasized that these problems can be avoided by adopting unanimous international safety standards. Technical expert David Koh pointed out this, when he said: The developments that we have witnessed over the past years have led to an increased need for cooperation at the global level in order to provide a safe, reliable and jointly operated cyberspace. A system based on systems and standards agreed upon between countries, compatible with local laws and regulatory frameworks, is considered one of the basic ingredients for providing an appropriate cyberspace for businesses and individuals, and contributes to enhancing trust between countries, and improving their ability to predict risks, deal with them and achieve stability, which are necessary to advance wheel of economic development. Many strategic experts took a similar position, noting that governments in the Middle East are making great efforts to provide a secure digital environment, but these efforts do not fall within an integrated strategy, but are merely separate actions from each other, in the context of keeping pace with events.

Getting off the grid

Although individuals and organizations must adopt certain standards and practices, to limit cybersecurity attacks, providing a key infrastructure for ICT networks is essential. The actors in the technical sector in the Middle East have discussed, through several recent events, ways to build a more stable cyberspace in the post-pandemic stage, based on international standards and laws related to networks. Jawad Abbasi, President of the Middle East and North Africa at the International Mobile Telephone Association, and other officials called for open cooperation in the fields of security and standards, as part of the participation of the International Mobile Telephone Association in the “Arab Innovation Day” conference, organized by “Huawei” on the sidelines of the conference. GITEX International Exhibition, and echoes of this call reverberated in many forums.

At this year’s JISC Security Conference, the Computer Emergency Response Team of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation launched the first working group for 5G security in order to develop open, shared, and reliable standards for providing 5G infrastructure to more communities.

Several partners have joined in this effort, including experienced companies such as Huawei, which are involved in overseeing the working group.

At the Fifth Arab Conference on Information Security, which was held this fall, the Network Equipment Security Test (NESAS), which was jointly developed by the International Mobile Telephone Association and the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, was highlighted, as the test provides a common basis at the global level, Telecom operators and local ICT security agencies in the region can count on him to run their businesses, particularly those related to the security and efficiency of 5G networks. The strange thing is that the Chinese company “Huawei”, against which the previous US administration, led by the president, launched a massive campaign to restrict the work of its fifth generation networks, was actually the first company to pass the International Mobile Telephone Association’s tests in the field of network equipment security testing.

Today, the importance of the security of 5G networks emerges in light of the great progress made by many countries in the Middle East on the way to deploy these networks, and to benefit from their advantages for the business sector and individuals.

This technology supports the upgrading of infrastructure, to contribute to enhancing the business and services of vital sectors such as smart education, health care, oil and gas, and others, as digital transformation based on the fifth generation has become an essential part of development strategies in most countries of the Middle East. PricewaterhouseCoopers expects that 5G networks will support the economies of Europe and the Middle East by up to $361 billion by 2030.

Despite the need to take into account local requirements, the adoption of cyber security standards in line with the laws adopted at the international level will not only benefit the countries of the Middle East region, but will contribute to raising the ceiling of open cooperation, and concerted efforts to produce new innovations, which contribute to enhancing trust between Countries, and achieving joint success, whether at the level of deploying fifth generation networks or relying on cloud computing, or other emerging technologies, to develop the work of other sectors and industries, and advance social development, in line with the ambitious national plans and visions of the countries of the region.

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